October 7, 2008
This morning Lead Defense Counsel Courtenay Griffiths began his cross-examination of 51st Prosecution witness Komba Sumana.
Unfortunately during the first half hour there was no streaming over the internet, so there is no account of this part of the trial day.
Dates: months and years
Griffiths took Komba Sumana to his statement with Corinne Dufka for the OTP of the Special Court taken on September 21 and 22, 2003. In the statement referring to the time that the witness was forced to begin his two month military training the date is mentioned: February 1998. Griffiths put before the witness that, as Sumana testified in this Court yesterday, he could not tell the Court about years and months, this is a date that Corinne Dufka put in the statement herself. Sumana explained that at the time of his family leaving their home, his capture by the rebels and his military training he could not identify the years and the months. But after the war he has talked with his father about the war and to what he learnt from his father, he is now more able to tell when the events took place. Sumana remembered that at the time it was Mango time, the time the Mangos were ripe, so he suggested to Corinne Dufka that it would be approximately February and the year would be 1998. Sumana maintained that he himself mentioned February and that it was not something Dufka made up.
Age at time of conscripting
Griffiths took the witness to his birth certificate which states that Komba Sumana was born on August 10, 1984. On September 21, 2003 the witness stated to investigator Corinne Dufka from the Prosecution that he was 18 years old, while, in fact, he was 19 years old. Subsequently Griffiths suggested to the witness that, as he made a mistake here, he could also have made a mistake concerning his age at the time of his military training and that he at that time was in fact 15 and not 14 years old. The witness maintained that before he was captured by the rebels, his father used to tell him that he was 14 years old.
Presiding Judge Teresa Doherty asked how many persons were present during this interview, to which Sumana answered that it were himself, Corinne Dufka and one interpreter.
AFRC and ECOMOG
While going to another statement of the witness to the OTP, Griffiths established that during the beginning of the AFRC rule things were not so bad, even though the rebels sometimes wanted the civilians to do things for them, like fetch water and beat rice. Things got worse around February 1998 after the ECOMOG intervention and when ECOMOG kicked out the AFRC from Freetown. It was then that the rebels started looting and raping and food became scarce. Sumana agreed that he was captured after the ECOMOG intervention. The witness also agreed that he was captured by three rebels who spoke Liberian English and who were named Wuya, Opong and Alie. All three were former ULIMO fighters that had joined the STF (Special Task Force). They took the witness to Kissi Town, one of three rebel bases in that area. The one immediately in charge of the witness was Major Wallace, partly Liberian and also a former ULIMO who had joined the STF. Sumana agreed to this.
Griffiths established that after his capture Sumana worked for Major Wallace and his wife as a domestic for about three weeks before his military training started. After several weeks a large meeting took place, with all civilians from the three camps present and a screening process took place conducted by Morris Kallon. In September 2003 the witness spoke to Corinne Dufka about this and stated that his meeting was on a Monday, probably in April 1998. Griffiths put before the witness that Sumana himself said mango time and that Dufka translated this into April. Sumana maintained that he himself said the month was April.
Colonel Monica Pierson
The witness said he did not know the surname of Colonel Monica was Pierson, he only knew her as Monica. Sumana stated that he received his military training from her in Buedu. Griffiths brought out that at the time of Sumana’s training Colonel Monica was at a military camp called Bonombu, 14 miles from Buedu. Sumana maintained that he was trained by Monica and that the camp was called Buedu or at least in the vicinity of Buedu.
Passing out parade
In Court the witness has stated that at his passing out parade a truck came with Liberians who wore red military caps who brought old and new guns which were distributed to all trainees. Sumana now told the Court that it was Monica who personally handed over the (old) gun to him, an AK47. He now further described the attire of the driver and other three militaries in the truck: red military caps, green mufflers around their necks, black and green mixed uniforms and army boots. Griffiths took the witness to proofing notes from October 2004 where Sumana said that there had been a test, Sumana failed the test, he could not shoot and therefore he did not receive a gun. In the statement to Corinne Dufka in September 2003 the witness said that all new recruits received a gun and that he himself received an old gun. Sumana maintained that what he had told in Court was the truth and that the proofing notes should have been corrected.
Yesterday the witness testified that during the time of his passing out parade he asked Alie where the soldiers bringing the weapons came from and that Alie told him they were Charles Taylor’s soldiers. Griffiths established that Sumana told this to the OTP for the first time on September 27, 2008, about ten days ago. Sumana agreed and said he never mentioned it before due to how the questions were put before him. Griffiths also established that Sumana never heard anyone else mention the name Charles Taylor to him, that this was the only occasion he heard the name Charles Taylor.
At this point in the cross-examination the Court is adjourned for the mid-morning break at 11.30 a.m.